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Geraldine Lane Mardis Papers

Identifier: harsh-2003-02

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of photographs and a scrapbook documenting the Lane family. Of note are photographs of the family vacationing in Idlewild, Michigan (a popular resort town for African Americans). The collection also includes biographical information on Geraldine Lane Mardis and Dr. Alexander Lane (her paternal grandfather).


  • Creation: 1907-1953, undated


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection

Biographical / Historical

Geraldine Lane Mardis was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 14, 1918. She was the only child of Bessie and Roscoe C. Lane. At the age of six she moved to Chicago, Illinois to reside with her paternal grandmother, Belle Lane Kelly, who raised her.

Mardis attended Parker High School and graduated in 1935. She then attended the University of Chicago, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Service and a Master’s Degree from the university’s School of Social Service Administration in 1953. During Mardis’s undergrad years, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and considered to be an outgoing student. In 1939, Mardis was nominated as a contestant in the University of Chicago’s annual Cap and Gown Beauty Contest. Mardis was reported leading in votes but was asked to withdraw when officials learned she was African American. The controversy was reported in newspapers nationwide.

In 1948, Mardis married M. Winston Mardis. They divorced seventeen years later. The couple had one son, Winston Lane.

Mardis worked as a medical social worker at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center from 1949 to 1952. She was then employed by Rest Haven Rehabilitation Hospital as a medical social worker in 1959. The hospital was renamed as Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. Mardis was promoted to Director of the Department of Social Work and stayed until her retirement in February 1992.

Geraldine Lane Mardis passed away on October 12, 2012.


3.5 Linear Feet (in 3 boxes, includes 34 photographs and 1 scrapbook)

Language of Materials



Geraldine Lane Mardis’ grandfather Alexander Lane graduated from Rush Medical College in 1895 and served as an Illinois state legislator. Her family vacationed at Idlewild, Mich., beginning in the 1920s. While a student at University of Chicago, Mardis was the subject of a racially motivated controversy. Her papers include correspondence, newspapers clippings, Idlewild and Chicago photographs, and memorabilia.


This collection is arranged into three series by type of material: Series 1: Manuscripts, 1907-1950, undated; Series 2: Photographs, 1926-1953, undated; and Series 3: Scrapbook, 1926-1949, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Geraldine Lane Mardis in June 2003 and May 2008

Related Materials

Related materials at the Chicago Public Library include:

  • Jeanne Boger Jones Papers
  • Ruth Montrose Papers

Guide to the Geraldine Lane Mardis Papers
Elizabeth Loch, Archival Specialist
April 2021
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection Repository

Woodson Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
9525 S. Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60628 United States
(312) 745-2080